This week is prisons week which I have thought about more this year in light of the ‘stuff’ in the media recently about whether prisoners should have the vote or not. For a few years now I have been following this blog of a prison chaplain working in Scotland. I think what she writes is very powerful, and today she posts a thought provoking poem from Judge Dennis Challeen:
We want them to have self-worth
So we destroy their self-worth
We want them to be responsible
So we take away all responsibility
We want them to be positive and constructive
So we degrade them and make them useless
We want them to be trustworthy
So we put them where there is no trust
We want them to be non-violent
So we put them where violence is all around them
We want them to be kind and loving people
So we subject them to hatred and cruelty
We want them to quit being the tough guy
So we put them where the tough guy is respected
We want them to quit hanging around losers
So we put all the losers under one roof
We want them to quit exploiting us
So we put them where they exploit each other
We want them to take control of their lives, own problems and quit being a parasite…
So we make them totally dependant on us.
It seems to me that more needs to be done to restore hope and responsibility in our fellow human beings, fellow image carriers of God, who are in prisons. Giving back the vote would seem to be one small step in that long massive process.
I particularly …. I don’t know … like is not the right word. I do ‘like’ the cartoon … but I don’t like the subject matter as it does make me angry. Once again ASBO Jesus hits the nail on the head … as Christians maybe we need to be standing up and speaking out more … if we sit back then the vulnerable on the edges of our society will be ‘taken for a ride’ …. and not to a great place either!!
And before people come back and say its all due to the debt … fine … but lets not pretend the measures of this government are hitting us all equally … my family will probably remain fairly ok (well until Tom goes to university!) … but the vulnerable of our society, those that need support but are having benefits cut and services slashed and even legal aid taken from them … they are paying a far greater price.
I feel myself getting angry for justice (and to be honest I still don’t understand Christians that seemingly do not get angered by the poor in society having unfair burdens placed upon them) and so I think I’ll end my post there!
“There’s nothing more radical, nothing more revolutionary, nothing more subversive against injustice and oppression than the Bible. If you want to keep people subjugated, the last thing you place in their hands is a Bible.”
Archbishop Tutu, September 2008.
quote thanks to TSK!
(Archbishop Desmund Tutu ‘retired’ this week from public life.)
Lots more has been said today – but no one seems to be willing to press hard on Israel and hold them to account. David Milliband, the Shadow Foreign Scretary says: ‘The humanitarian suffering in Gaza is completely unjustified and self defeating for all those concerned with political progress in the Middle East.Vital supplies must be allowed into Gaza and the futile loss of civilian lives in this tragedy only increases that requirement.’ He says more here. I agree totally with what he says (you’d no doubt expect that as I am a Labour Party member) – but I have to say, David, it’s a real shame you did sodf all about this when you were the ACTUAL Foreign Secretary and could have done something about it.
The people ‘living’ (as regarding quality of life that is a loose term) in Gaza need food, medical supplies, water etc etc etc. The illegal Israeli blockade does not even allow concrete and other building materials through so that Palestinians can rebuild their homes. Instead, these people have to live amongst the rubble of what used to be their house.
If Israel will not allow humanitarian aid via road or sea from Turkey and other close by states that it cannot trust – why can’t the European nations and the USA do something? I have a suggestion – why not have UK and us planes and helicopters fly aid and parachute it into Gaza … would Israel really accuse us of sending in military materials for Hamas and shoot down a Chinook helicopter?
WE have allowed these abuses to go on for too long. As humans we must stand up for justice of the oppressed. As Christians we need to be shouting louder about the everyday abuses that are allowed to exist here. no other country would be allowed to go unpunished for the abuses both inside and outside Israel that the Israelis have been allowed to commit … illegal building, illegal blockade, boarding a peaceful flotilla in inetrnational waters, ordering assassinations, cloning passports of its allies ….. the lack of respect and the arrognave shown to the rest of the world must stop.
Everyone hs a right to protect themselves – but regular disproportionate aggressions and violence is simply wrong.
The time for words is over …. surely it is time for Europe and the USA to act!
Bishop Nick Baines blogs today about resignations,and I found myself massively agreeing with his view on the more serious resignation around the world ‘that Israel can do what it likes and get away with it – that in the end no one will hold Israel to account. They can build their illegal settlements, flout UN Resolutions at will, refuse to cooperate with the wider world (eg. nuclear proliferation negotiations) and commit atrocities against vulnerable people – and apart from a few sharp words, they can then carry on business as usual.’
Bishop Nick is of course referring to Israeli forces intercepting an unarmed flotilla attempting to take medical supplies and food to people in Gaza. As ever Israel speaks of ‘self defence‘ and yet we read of deaths of unarmed civilians yet again from armed Israeli military personnel.
Many have protested and Israel will ignore those protests and simply carry on committing atrocities.
When will governments stand up and act against this country that flouts international laws and has total disregard or respect for human life and the views of those who disagree.
William Hague (the Foreign Secretary) speaks well today and says ‘there is a clear need for Israel to act with restraint and in line with international obligations.’ He goes on to say: ‘This news underlines the need to lift the restrictions on access to Gaza in line with UNSCR (UN Security Council Resolution) 1860.The closure (of access to Gaza) is unacceptable and counter-productive. There can be no better response from the international community to this tragedy than to achieve urgently a durable resolution to the Gaza crisis.
I call on the Government of Israel to open the crossings to allow unfettered access for aid to Gaza, and address the serious concerns about the deterioration in the humanitarian and economic situation and about the effect on a generation of young Palestinians.”
We can pray that these are not merely empty words – the whole world knows the blockade is inhumane and inexcusable. What else does Israel need to do before the UN takes action – maybe banning sales of arms to Israel would be a good start!
We should pray that the global resignation that nothing will change can be crushed so that lives can be saved.
Today was a more interesting Wednesday than normal. The day started with my normal routine Wednesday study time but today I stopped after lunch as I had to go to court to be a witness in a case that I am surprised got all the way to the county court, particularly as the incident allegedly happened in November 2007.
We met the barrister at around 1.30 and then waited to be called. After the barristers went in to the court room at 2.30 I was then left waiting for over an hour before I was called to give my evidence. At the end the judge kindly gave me permission to go but I asked if I could stay as I wished to see the outcome of the case. She kindly agreed and I can say that the person I was giving evidence on behalf of had the case against him dismissed. It was great to see, in my opinion, justice done in the court.
I don’t want to talk about the case as I don’t think that would be right but it was an amazingly interesting 4 or so hours that I spent in the courts. The number of conversations overheard was fascinating and the stress that many were under in family or small claim situations was clearly, and sadly, tangible. People were fairly emotional but despite this there was a strange air of calm about the place.
My main relfection from today is all around the idea of justice and how people can view the same incident differently. Today there were many people going into rooms to disagree with each other but, quite interestingly, willing to trust and abide by the judgment of one person after he or she had heard all the evidence from both sides. I think we take this for granted but I feel this is a massive plus of our society. Most of these people had very large grievances and yet – after being heard they were willing to allow someone else to make a decision that they would abide by.
Although some may ague that it is sad that most of these arguments could not be sorted out before hand, I think today has shown a real strength and credit of humanity and its trust of each other.
I just had an email alerting me to this interview given by Nick Griffin where he states that he would would support civilian boats being targeted, fired upon and sunk. You can watch their exchange here.
This man needs to be exposed for what he really stands for – it is shocking that he will be representing our country in the European Parliament. That’s what happens when people choose to opt out and not vote!